Recently while I was visiting a friend in the hospital, a physician came in carrying a tablet computer. The doctor tapped the screen a few times to check the latest entries in my friend’s electronic health record (EHR). This brief encounter was a great example of how mobile computing devices are helping healthcare organizations deliver on Affordable Care Act (ACA) objectives for EHRs, improved quality of patient care, and increased efficiencies across the system. What’s more, today’s patients expect to see such devices in healthcare settings. With mobile devices such an important part of modern life, a technology-rich healthcare experience is a sign of efficiency.

 

To meet these expectations, vendors like Dell OEM and AAEON are creating specialized tablets using the latest Intel® Atom™ processors  and Microsoft Windows* 8. These tablets can improve health outcomes as well as patient and doctor satisfaction alike.

 

Doctors Prefer Tablets and Touchscreens

A survey of nearly 1,400 doctors found that doctors prefer tablet computers over smartphones for care delivery. Equally important, doctors and other care providers prefer workflows designed for touch rather than typing because touchscreens enable more face-to-face interaction. Discussing health matters over a tablet seems more personal, whether showing an X-ray or an educational video on a particular condition or treatment.

 

A Winning Combo with Windows 8/8.1

For healthcare settings, the touchscreen interface, advanced functionality, security features, and projected cost savings of tablets based on the latest versions of Windows and these processors make them a winning combination.

 

An example of the advanced functionality is Snap mode. This feature enables care providers to run two applications on the screen at the same time. The side-by-side display can provide fluidity between immediate patient care documentation in the exam room and checking the latest information on a prescription drug. To improve the speed and accuracy of diagnosis by avoiding the need to flip back and forth between images, a doctor cab use Snap mode to access a reference application—such as a neuroanatomy program that shows photos of the brain and nervous system— while a DICOM viewer displays the patient’s CAT scan.

 

Naturally, protecting patient information is critical. To improve security, the Intel® Atom™ processor E3800 and Z3700 product families support Windows 8 Secure Boot and Microsoft BitLocker. Secure Boot defines an interface between the operating system (OS) and BIOS that helps a system resist attacks and infection from malware. Only authorized software can boot and run on the device. Microsoft BitLocker is a drive encryption solution which is enhanced by the inclusion of Intel® Advanced Encryption Standard New Instructions (Intel® AES-NI) in both the Intel Atom processor E3800 and Z3700 product families. Used with BitLocker, Intel AES-NI gives a performance boost to drive cryptography—as well as when encrypting and decrypting data for transfer to the back end or cloud.

 

Strong management solutions from both Intel and Microsoft further enhance security, plus provide valuable IT savings through remote manageability. With a fully functional Windows device based on Intel processors, administrators can use the centralized management features of Microsoft Active Directory. Through Active Directory, administrators can add devices to domains and manage group policies. If there’s a new anti-virus patch, they can apply it centrally to make sure every tablet is updated.

 

The Need for Performance

Care providers are demanding users. They need tablets with enough compute performance to multitask their way through medical records, lab results, ultrasounds, X-rays, and other diagnostic information while a patient eagerly awaits a diagnosis. Their tablets must be able to display a wide array of multimedia, including photos, 3D images and other graphics, video and audio. If all that wasn’t challenging enough, the long working days of care providers require tablets with long battery life.

 

Intel designed the Intel Atom processor E3800 and Z3700 product families to meet these kinds of demands. The processors deliver an excellent combination of graphics performance, compute power, and energy efficiency.

 

For graphics, the processors use a version of the Gen 7 Intel® Graphics Technology first seen in 3rd generation Intel® Core™ processors that provide up to a 5X improvement in 3D graphics performance and an 80 percent higher video decode performance than the previous Intel Atom processor generation. This graphics boost enables intuitive, highly responsive touch interfaces and smooth playback of instructional videos, teleconferences, and other media-centric applications.

 

For compute power and long battery life, the processors are 3X faster than their predecessor and deliver up to 3X better energy efficiency. Thermal design power (TDP) is just 5-10W. Milliwatt standby power and auto-sleep support help maximize battery life, and near-instant power-on and network connectivity enable busy care providers to get right to work.

 

A Winning Combo with Windows 8/8.1

For healthcare settings, the touchscreen interface, advanced functionality, security features, and projected cost savings of tablets based on the latest versions of Windows and these processors make them a winning combination.

 

An example of the advanced functionality is Snap mode. This feature enables care providers to run two applications on the screen at the same time. The side-by-side display can provide fluidity between immediate patient care documentation in the exam room and checking the latest information on a prescription drug. To improve the speed and accuracy of diagnosis by avoiding the need to flip back and forth between images, a doctor cab use Snap mode to access a reference application—such as a neuroanatomy program that shows photos of the brain and nervous system— while a DICOM viewer displays the patient’s CAT scan.

 

Naturally, protecting patient information is critical. To improve security, the Intel Atom processor E3800 and Z3700 product families support Windows 8 Secure Boot and Microsoft BitLocker. Secure Boot defines an interface between the operating system (OS) and BIOS that helps a system resist attacks and infection from malware. Only authorized software can boot and run on the device. Microsoft BitLocker is a drive encryption solution which is enhanced by the inclusion of Intel AES-NI in both the Intel Atom processor E3800 and Z3700 families. Used with BitLocker, Intel AES-NI gives a performance boost to drive cryptography—as well as when encrypting and decrypting data for transfer to the back end or cloud.

 

Strong management solutions from both Intel and Microsoft further enhance security, plus provide valuable IT savings through remote manageability. With a fully functional Windows device based on Intel processors, administrators can use the centralized management features of Microsoft Active Directory. Through Active Directory, administrators can add devices to domains and manage group policies. If there’s a new anti-virus patch, they can apply it centrally to make sure every tablet is updated.

 

Two Tablets Designed for Healthcare Use

As tablets become the norm for how care providers work and share information, demand is growing for rugged units designed for clinic use. The Dell Venue 11 Pro  provides 2-in-1 flexibility, providing the portability of a tablet, but the power of an Ultrabook. The tablet is available with an optional full-sized keyboards and a tablet dock, allowing it to easily adapt to on-the-go and desk uses (see Figure 1).

 

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Figure 1. The Dell Venue 11 Pro is a versatible tablet offering an optional docking station and keyboard choices.

 

The Dell Venue 11 Pro features a large 10.8” HD IPS 1080p display that offers greater viewing angles to enable better provider-patient screen sharing. A high precision pen makes it easy to annotate, draw, or take notes. Connectivity choices include 4G LTE*/HSPA+* and 802.11n WiFi. For rugged performance and extended battery life, the tablet is equipped with Intel® Atom™ processor Z3770 and a swappable battery (based on configuration), plus is available with a rugged case the meets military standards (MIL-STD-810) and has an ingress protection rating of IP54.

 

Another solid choice is the RTC-900B Rugged Tablet Computer from AAEON. This rugged tablet features IP65 ingress protection against water and dust. It’s powered by an Intel Atom E3800 processor product family and features a wide (1280x800) 10.1” TFT LCD display supporting projected capacitive multi-touch (see Figure 2). A Li-Polymer high-capacity battery provides eight hours of battery life. It comes equipped with 802.11b/g/n and includes GPS for location-aware services and a 5-megapixel camera. The camera can be helpful for everything from video conferences to taking pictures of skin or other medical conditions.

 

RTC.jpg

Figure 2. The rugged AAEON RTC-900B features a wide display that supports projected capacitive multi-touch.

 

Take Two Tablets and Call Me in the Morning

System integrators can help healthcare organizations keep the focus on human interaction rather than technology by equipping them with these and other rugged tablets based on the latest Intel Atom processors. Developers can get a valuable head start as well to this growing trend of tablets in healthcare by visiting the Intel Developer Zone’s library. It’s full of documents, code samples, demos, tools, and videos for helping developers write software optimized for touch, especially Windows 8/8.1.

 

 

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Dell OEM is a Premier member of the Intel® Internet of Things Solutions Alliance. AAEON and Microsoft are Associate members of the Alliance.

 

Mark Scantlebury

Roving Reporter (Intel Contractor), Intel® Internet of Things Solutions Alliance

Associate Editor, Embedded Innovator magazine